In The Mona Lisa Curse, Hughes traces the pernicious rise of the commercial art market back to 1963, when Leonardo da Vinci’s most famous portrait was exhibited in New York. The Mona Lisa, says Hughes, was treated “as thought it were a film star. People came not to look at it, but to say that they’d seen it.”
At Sotheby’s on Tuesday an anonymous bidder bought a bull in a tank of formaldehyde for £10.3million. The world’s most expensive cut of beef was cooked up, inevitably, by the artist Damien Hirst, whose “Beautiful Inside My Head Forever” sale of 223 new works fetched £111.5million, a record for an auction dedicated to one artist. The illustrious Australian art critic Robert Hughes, however, isn’t buying the hype.
This is partly because Hughes – who presented The Mona Lisa Curse, a one-off polemic broadcast on British TV – considers Hirst’s work flashy and fatuous. Indeed he has described one of the British artist’s sharks in formaldehyde as “the world’s most overrated marine organism”.
But Hughes’s central beef with Hirst’s headline-grabbing success is that it illustrates how today’s mercenary art market has made the price of a work of art more significant than its meaning. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/tvandradio/3560841/The-Mona-Lisa-Curse.html